Category Archives: Caribbean Plus Lit News

Literary news of interest from the Caribbean and wider world

Shout-outs, Celebrating Intersections

Shouting out Danielle Boodoo Fortuneof Trinidad and Tobago whose debut poetry collection Doe Songs dropped recently to acclaim, not a surprise to anyone familiar with her work. Danielle, a past Hollick Arvon and Wasafiri New Writing prize winner, also has new work in the Peekash collection Thicker than Water, recently announced on this site. If you’re a regular to this site, you know that both her poetry and art work have been shared here (use the search feature to the right to revisit them), and you know that she illustrated my last picture book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure.

illustrator Danielle

Danielle with her son and our book.

Congrats, Danielle.

Shouting out Loretta Collins Klobah of Puerto Rico on her latest win the PEN Translates Award for The Sea Needs No Ornament, edited and translated from Spanish, with Maria Grau Perejoan. That’s right hurricane recovery has not slowed her efforts as she continues to work on other literary projects and teach, and has recently released the poetry collection Ricantations, the follow up to her critically acclaimed, Bocas award winning The Twelve-Foot Neon Woman. If you’re a regular to this site, you know that her poetry has been featured here (use the search feature to the right to revisit them), and you may or may not know that students in her Caribbean Children’s Literature course have been introduced to and done presentations on my books The Boy from Willow Bend and Musical Youth (so thanks to her for that).

Congrats, Loretta.

Celebrating intersections.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator). Excerpting, reblogging, linking etc. is fine, but PLEASE do not lift ANY content (images or text) wholesale from this site without asking first and crediting the creator of that work and/or copyright holder. All Rights Reserved. If you like the content here follow or recommend the blog, also, check out my page on WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. Thank you.

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Reading Room and Gallery 29

The Reading Room and Gallery is a space where I share things I come across that I think you might like too  – some are things of beauty, some just bowl me over with their brilliance, some are things I think we could all learn from, some are artistes I want to support by spreading the word, and some just because. Let’s continue to support the arts and the artistes by rippling the water together. For earlier installments of the Reading Room and Gallery, use the search feature to the right. This is the 29th one which means there are 28 earlier ones (can’t link them all). Remember to keep checking back, this list will grow as I make new finds until it outgrows this page and I move on to the next one. – JCH

INTERVIEW

“Gowdy: I return to the childhoods of one or two of my main characters in most of my books, I think. It’s nothing I plan on doing ahead of time, but I guess it’s as if I need to establish certain propensities in the child before I can fully create the adult. And then there’s the joy of writing about children because they haven’t yet formed a shell sturdy enough to hold in their souls. Children are so expressive and hilarious. They’re all poets in that they’re trying to get a fix on the world, so they’re comparing everything to everything else, sounding out words, taking what you say too literally, even as they believe in magic. I hope the young Rose is recognizably the grown Rose, but neither is quite the other, and that’s where I live as a writer, in the place between the living, personal self and the remembered self. Or in the place between the living self and the different self.” – The Impossible is Now Possible: A Conversation by Barbara Gowdy and Helen Phillips

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“(Danielle) Boodoo-Fortuné is a fresh new voice on the poetry scene. This collection creates vivid images of the rural Trinidadian world, where the real and the mythical rub along together.” – Esther Phillips, Barbados’ Poet Laureate speaking with Zing on her new role and 5 Great Works by Caribbean Poets

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 – Juleus Ghunta

FICTION

“Bills gather in heaps at my feet. I watch them beat about on the paint encrusted tiles, in the slight breeze seeping in under my door through a space big enough to let in the lizards, centipedes and mice which use my house for shelter when the rains come.  But the rains have not come. A week to Easter, and still no rain. Not even back to back cricket matches, usually enough to entice the rains to douse the field just when our team is winning, can sweeten the rain to fall. Young fruit die sunburnt under confused mango trees that flower and bear at the same time. The plants look like when you drink something sour and your face falls into itself. The cow itch vine, whose windblown fibres make me want to scratch skin off my bones, head in the ground. Even the weeds are seeing trouble.” – A Whiff of Bleach by Suelin Low Chew Tung

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“In those days, it was the custom to roll out a lemon from the delivery room. The midwife in charge always had a lemon at hand. As soon as the baby arrived she would roll it out of the room. The exact moment that the fruit exited the room would be registered and used to cast the horoscope. Ayya did not have much faith in this fruit-rolling practice. He would wait for the baby’s first cries. He contended that the wail was enough to give him the time of birth. Amma’s vote was for the fruit. The accident that followed my birth made Ayya change his stand.” – Horoscopes by Appadurai Muttulingam, translated from Tamil by Padma Narayanan

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page Jhohadli or like me on Facebook. Help me spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Mailbox – New Peekash

Peekash Press began in 2014 as a partnership between Peepal Tree Press in the United Kingdom and Akashic Books in the United States; it was a CaribLit initiative coming out of the Bocas Lit Fest in partnership with Commonwealth Writers and the British Council.

Peekash’s first publication was Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean followed by Coming up Hot: 8 New Poets from the Caribbean, New Worlds Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean, and So Many Islands: Stories from the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. Antiguans and Barbudans in these collections, to date, have been Tammi Browne-Bannister, from Antigua and Barbuda/based in Babados, who has been in So Many Islands and New Worlds Old Ways; and Joanne C. Hillhouse in Pepperpot – as listed in Antiguan and Barbudan Writings.

Peekash’s new publication is Thicker than Water: New Writing from the Caribbean. Here are the details:

Difficult parents and lost children, unfaithful spouses and spectral lovers, mysterious ancestors and fierce bloodlines — the stories, poems, and memoirs in this new anthology tackle everything that’s most complicated and thrilling about family and history in the Caribbean. Collecting new writing by finalists for the Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize, a groundbreaking award administered by the Bocas Lit Fest, Thicker Than Water shows us how a new generation of Caribbean authors address perennial questions of love, betrayal, and memory in small places where personal and collective histories are often troublingly intertwined.

Thicker than Water

Contributing writers are:

Lisa Allen-Agostini • Trinidad and Tobago
Nicolette Bethel • The Bahamas
Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné • Trinidad and Tobago
Vashti Bowlah • Trinidad and Tobago
Richard Georges • British Virgin Islands
Zahra Gordon • Trinidad and Tobago
Barbara Jenkins • Trinidad and Tobago
Lelawatee Manoo-Rahming • Trinidad and Tobago/The Bahamas
Ira Mathur • Trinidad and Tobago
Diana McCaulay • Jamaica
Sharon Millar • Trinidad and Tobago
Monica Minott • Jamaica
Philip Nanton • St Vincent and the Grenadines
Xavier Navarro Aquino • Puerto Rico
Shivanee Ramlochan • Trinidad and Tobago
Judy Raymond • Trinidad and Tobago
Hazel Simmons-McDonald • St Lucia
Lynn Sweeting • The Bahamas
Peta-Gaye V. Williams • Jamaica

Details here.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page Jhohadli or like me on Facebook. Help me spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

 

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Missed Announcements (Commonwealth, Burt)

I missed a couple of announcements which is understandable, this isn’t my job after all, but I wanted to get back to them even if they aren’t technically new(s) any more, because these authors deserve their dap – and because there are so few opportunities specifically for Caribbean writers, I like to highlight the ones that are. Call it inspiration for any of the rest of us out here putting pen to paper (fingers to keyboard, thumbs to keypad, whatever) every day.

Commonwealth

First up. This dude. This dude right here!hosein

He made all the newspapers in his native Trinidad and Tobago for being that rare unicorn to repeat a Commonwealth Short Story Writers Prize win. The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2000 – 5000 words) across the Commonwealth. The overall winner receives £5,000 and regional winners receive £2,500. Translators receive additional prize money. Hosein, as I mentioned on my facebook, has been on a roll lately between being longlisted for Bocas (for The Repenters in 2017), being shortlisted/placing second for the Burt Award (for The Beast of Kukuyo in 2017), and now winning his second Regional (Caribbean) Prize for the Commonwealth Short Story Competition. I had a conversation recently with someone about whether it was fair for past winners to repeat and I think it is – a past winner is still a writer, writing, and not as set for life as some might like to think, and if the judging is blind as we like to think it is then their odds of winning/losing are the same as anyone else’s. I don’t think it necessarily has to stack the deck. And if you break through in any competition against a proven winner wouldn’t that feel even more like a win? I don’t know, apples and oranges in terms of scope, but Wadadli Pen winners can keep competing no matter how many times they win, as long as they’re still age eligible, because for them and every entrant it’s about challenging themselves; at least that’s how I see it. I certainly plan to keep going for everything I’m eligible for because I’m far from set/still hungry and because I always want to challenge myself to be better. A competition isn’t really an exact science as far as good, better, best is concerned – I know this all too well having been a judge of competitions myself – but for me the challenge isn’t really on the judges’ end but on mine, challenging myself to be better than I was two sentences ago. When it’s a personal challenge like that, chances are you may be inclined to step back anyway because been there, won that. Though of course that prize money and the come-up a win gives a writer is also nothing to cut your eye at. Within all of it though, hopefully bigger than all of it, is the desire to continue telling your stories:

“Trinidad and Tobago writes itself. It writes loudly and quietly at the same time. Loudly, because it likes to boast of its best and worst parts. Quietly, because it thinks nobody cares to listen. This win, along with the many voices year after year whom have shortlisted and won for this little twin-island nation, is reinforced proof that people out there are entertained by our stories, derive meaning and relevance from them, and are moved by them. It is proof that people care to listen”. – Kevin Jared Hosein

Since you’re here btw, take a new look at a post Kevin did about writing and publishing from the Caribbean; I’ve recommended it for people trying to understand the industry, and recommend it here again for you – he breaks it down way better than I’ve been able to.

Burt

I posted the short list and a run down of all previous winners (and their books) of the Burt Award but don’t think I ever got around to coming back and letting you know the top three winners’ ranking. Not that it matters – apart from a little more bank depending on where you are in the ranking – as, per Burt’s template, all three top three will be published and widely distributed across the region. This makes the Burt Award – sponsored by Canadian non-profit CODE and replicated among the Canadian First Nations/Natives community and all of Africa – a tangible path to publication.

So you can look out for new books from Guyanese writer Imam Baksh (who claimed his second Burt win – top spot), Barbadian writer (and filmmaker – second in the ranking) Shakirah Bourne, and Bermudan writer (editor, tutor – third overall) Elizabeth J. Jones.  In addition to the book orders (up to 2,500 copies of each book), Burt also gives lump sum cash prizes to the winners – 10,000 CAD to the winner and 2,000 CAD each to the finalists. See the winners’ announcement here.

Looking forward to their books and I really do encourage you teachers, parents, aunts with teens – Caribbean or otherwise but especially Caribbean – in your life to introduce them to at least one of these books. These are modern tales of the young Caribbean experience or tales with particular, though not exclusive, appeal to this age group.

See the full list to date.

See also Caribbean Reads publisher Carol Mitchell’s encouragement to writers from the so-called small islands to big up themselves in these contests and Opportunities with upcoming deadlines for anyone seeking to challenge themselves to do just that.

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator). Excerpting, reblogging, linking etc. is fine, but PLEASE do not lift ANY content (images or text) wholesale from this site without asking first and crediting the creator of that work and/or copyright holder. All Rights Reserved. If you like the content here follow or recommend the blog, also, check out my page on WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. Thank you.

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Mailbox – Hurston Wright

Below is the release from the Hurston Wright Foundation in Washington re their annual awards. For those not aware Hurston Wright, named for two towering figures in African American literature (Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright), is a programme that offers development programmes (like Hurston Wright week) and activities to celebrate literature by Blacks from America and the African diaspora. Past Antiguan-Barbudan nominees have included Marie Elena John for her novel Unburnable. This year, from the Caribbean, Kwame Dawes makes the list. Shout out to all the nominees. I think you will easily recognize other names and must-reads on this list; I know I do.Zora Neale Hurston

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Ntozake Shange and Charles Henry Rowell To Receive Merit Awards
Legacy Award Nominees Announced for October Ceremony

The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation will present merit awards to two pioneers in their fields at the 2018 Legacy Awards Ceremony on Friday, October 19 at the historic Washington Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Receiving the North Star Award—the foundation’s highest honor for career accomplishment and inspiration to the writing community—is Ntozake Shange, poet and playwright who created the iconic For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf.  Charles Henry Rowell, founder and editor of Callaloo Literary Journal, will receive the Madam C.J. Walker Award for his dedication to supporting and sustaining Black literature.

Ntozake Shange is one of America’s greatest living writers—an acknowledged master in the genres of drama, fiction, memoir, and poetry. Her theater piece For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow Is Enuf (dubbed a “choreopoem” for its highly original combination of music, poetry, and dance) was a stunning success on Broadway in 1976-1977, and has been performed continuously since then both in the United States and abroad. It is a staple on the required reading lists of many major school districts, colleges and universities, and was made into a movie by Tyler Perry in 2010. In a hugely prolific career, Shange has written 15 plays, 19 poetry collections, 6 novels, 5 children’s books, 3 collections of essays, and a partial memoir called Lost in Language & Sound.  Among her more notable novels are Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo; Betsey Brown (about her childhood and the Civil Rights movement in St. Louis), and Liliane: Resurrection of the Daughter. Her newest volume of poetry, Wild Beauty, was published in November 2017.

Charles Henry Rowell is editor of Callaloo, which he founded and first began publishing in 1976, when he was teaching English at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. At that time, Callaloo focused on the literature and culture of the Black South, but the indefatigable Dr. Rowell soon extended the scope of the quarterly journal to include literary and cultural work by writers and visual artists throughout the African Diaspora. But Callaloo—now sponsored by Texas A&M University at College Station and published by the Johns Hopkins University Press—is more than an acclaimed literary journal or magazine. Callaloo and the outreach programs it sponsors have long been a veritable literary and cultural center, publishing an academic literary and cultural monograph series, a series of international annual Callaloo conferences, and annual creative Callaloo Creative Writing Workshops in Barbados, England, and the USA. Dr. Rowell has spent his long higher-education career teaching, editing and, most importantly, identifying, encouraging, supporting, developing, and publishing new and emerging, as well as established, writers in the USA and in other countries of the African Diaspora.

The 2018 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards continue the foundation’s tradition of recognizing literary excellence by Black writers from the United States and around the world. The evening will culminate in the announcement of the winners of the juried awards for books by Black authors published in 2017 in the categories of debut novel, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. More than 140 books were submitted by publishers and self-published authors. The judges – all Legacy Award Honorees in previous years – worked independently of the foundation to evaluate the books for artistic excellence and contribution to the literary canon.

The Nominees for the 2018 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards are:

Debut Novel
What We Lose, Zinzi Clemmons (Viking)
The Talented Ribkins, Ladee Hubbard (Melville House Publishing)
An Unkindness of Ghosts, Rivers Solomon (Akashic Books)

Fiction
What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, Lesley Nneka Arimah (Riverhead Books)
The Tragedy of Brady Sims, Ernest J. Gaines (Vintage Contemporaries)
Dance of the Jakaranda, Peter Kimani (Akashic Books)
Black Moses, Alain Mabanckou (The New Press)
The Woman Next Door, Yewande Omotoso (Picador)
Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward (Scribner)

Nonfiction
Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A., Danielle Allen (Liveright)
Loving: Interracial Intimacy in America and the Threat to White Supremacy, Sheryll Cashin (Beacon Press)
Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History, Camille T. Dungy (W.W. Norton & Company)
The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits, Tiya Miles (The New Press)
Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education, Noliwe Rooks (The New Press)
The Cooking Gene: A Journey through African American Culinary History in the Old South, Michael W. Twitty (Amistad)

Poetry
City of Bones, Kwame Dawes (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press)
Trophic Cascade, Camille T. Dungy (Wesleyan University Press)
In the Language of My Captor, Shane McCrae (Wesleyan University Press)
Ordinary Beast, Nicole Sealey (Ecco)
Semiautomatic, Evie Shockley (Wesleyan University Press)
Incendiary Art, Patricia Smith (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press)

The judges
Debut Novel: Angela Flournoy, Donna Hemans, Ravi Howard
Fiction: Amina Gautier, Chinelo Okparanta, JJ Amaworo Wilson
Nonfiction: Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina, E. Patrick Johnson,William P. Jones
Poetry: Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, A.Van Jordan, Willie Perdomo

The Legacy Awards celebration is a two-day event that begins on Thursday, October 18th with a reading and book signing featuring the nominated authors and culminates in a ceremony on Friday, October 19th, that draws an audience of more than 200 literary stars and representatives of the publishing industry, media, arts, politics, and academia. Previously announced winners of the Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers, under the sponsorship of Amistad books, a division of Harper Collins Publishers, also will be honored.Visit http://www.hurstonwright.org for event details.

About the Hurston/Wright Foundation: The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation was founded in 1990 in Washington, D.C., and is dedicated to discovering, mentoring and honoring Black writers. Through workshops, master classes and readings, the organization preserves the voices of Black writers in the world literary canon, serves as a community for writers, and continues a tradition of literary excellence in storytelling established by its namesakes. The Hurston/Wright Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Learn more at http://www.hurstonwright.org.

This program was supported by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

 

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Writer Shoutout, Diversity Discussion

author books

Passing on this new book announcement from Guyanese-Canadian author Yolanda T. Marshall which I came across in the Caribbean Writers Facebook Group (N.B. new book shares, especially of non-Antiguan-Barbudan books, is not a regular service as this site is completely voluntary and subject to blogger’s time and the blog’s purpose, but, as with everything, there are exceptions). The book is Sweet Sorrell Stand. I’m not a big sorrel drinker but it is a quintessentially Caribbean drink and the eye-catching image of Caribbean children with a sorrel stand – not a lemonade stand – up North delighted me, and when I visited her page, the image of black Santa with the Caribbean black cake (not cookies) also tickled me. Sorrel typically being a Christmas drink, she takes a bit of creative license marketing it as a summertime beat-the-heat option. But, hey, why not.

Since I started writing my own picture books – actually before that, since I’ve been reading to children – I have become keenly aware of the diversity deficit in children’s publishing. I was aware of it before, of course, but it became more of a conscious concern as I read to my nieces and nephews, to children of the Cushion Club, to children in schools to which I was invited; this awareness, and the need to have something of my own to read, prompted me to try my hand at adding writing for children to my oeuvre. There are many shades to this problem but Marshall’s books address two of them at least – the need for black children to see themselves (racial) and the need for Caribbean children to see themselves (cultural), and of course in terms of larger western (let’s stick with western) culture, it also has the potential to push back on assumptions, like of course, Santa is white, duh, or the right of little black kids to be as entrepreneurial as little white kids with their lemonade stands, even if they’re selling bottled water to help out their mom and go to Disney, without having the police called on them or the threat of same for lack of a permit (i.e. white neighbor is inconvenienced).

I mention the need for openness because I’m still reflecting on a post I saw recently in an online book group I belong to in which this group member declared that she was giving up on a particular book not because it was badly written but because African books by African authors were too African for her; and it hit me funny as a Caribbean author writing Caribbean books and as a Caribbean reader who grew up reading primarily American and British books because for most of us growing up in the Caribbean that’s what was available and accessible, without the benefit of the “dictionary” she said was lacking with this African book that had committed the crime of being African (note: the book is clearly written in English otherwise she wouldn’t have bought it so it’s not a matter, I don’t think, of trying to read a foreign language book so much as a book with elements that are foreign to you – as I and others like me had to because it’s a privilege to have such ready access to yourself on the page). Commenters seemed to agree with her but I can’t help thinking that it would do us all better to challenge ourselves to step in to the world of whatever we see as other, even if we stumble a bit more over unfamiliar places, things, and here and there words we don’t know. It would make us more empathetic, I think, in the long run, less likely to call police or threaten to call police on a little black girl selling water.

About the book: Miss Marshall’s latest release is “Sweet Sorrel Stand”. In this children’s book, Rose and Nicolas loved their favourite Caribbean sorrel drink so much, the siblings decided to create a sorrel stand with the assistance of their parents. Their Sweet Sorrel Stand was a success in the neighbourhood. The main ingredient of the drink is the Roselle plant (Sorrel), a species of hibiscus which is native to West Africa. The red flower buds are boiled, strained, sweetened with sugar, with a touch of ginger, cinnamon, orange peel and cloves. Once cooled for a couple of hours or overnight, it is served with ice. It is known to be very rich in antioxidants. Traditionally, this drink is served during Christmas holidays. On a hot summer day, it is a refreshing alternative to lemonade.

To read more about Marshall’s books, visit her page – I’ve also added her to the Caribbean Writers online page here on the blog.

To check out children’s picture books by authors right here in Antigua and Barbuda, here’s where you go.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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A Love Letter from Linisa

Linisa GeorgeI’m calling this a love letter because love isn’t only romantic. In the note that follows, you’ll hear loud and clear Linisa Geroge’s boundless love for her sister in art, Zahra Airall, and the complicated love artists have to the journey, as well as passion (a kind of love) for the art that flows through her. I want to share the love as I felt it reading this, and so, with Linisa’s permission (from her social media):

“I’m feeling a bit emotional right now, so please allow me this moment to share something. As most of you know Zahra and I have partnered over the years to do quite a bit of creative projects in Antigua. Last year we made the very difficult and frustrating decision to take a year off from Poetry In The Pub. Many of you were sad and while we understood your emotions, we needed to step back and work on individual projects that needed our attention. There were things that we wanted to do that kept haunting us because we were not putting the time needed into getting them off the ground.

Today is the 27th June 2018, and well look at the universe responding to our hardwork. I revealed on Monday that my first book will be available in August and I founded a collective that will focus on fostering collaborative work between all creatives. Zahra is presently in Turks and Caicos with her Honey Bee Theatre on tour with her play ‘Light In The Darkness’ sponsored by UN Women through the Directorate of Gender Affairs.

In order to grow and evolve you must make hard decisions. You must step away from certain things and people and seek clarity. You must go silent. You must bite the bullet and prioritize. You must some times strip everything down and start over. I won’t get into all the frustrating tears of weariness that we’ve shed, or the times we were so close to calling it quits on our haunting dreams. I just wanted to share with you what it looks like when you push through in spite of surmounting obstacles.

I’m usually a very private person but in the past year retreating and focusing on my health and personal and professional development has allowed me to unlock new levels of consciousness. I don’t have any answers to success or financial freedom, but I do know the joy and peace that come with owning your greatness and living out your passions. Art.Culture.Antigua will be back next week and the Black Girl In The Ring Foundation is slowly tying up all its loose ends. There are other things in motion that I won’t share just yet, but know that I’m putting in a shitload of work. I’ve sacrificed a lot, some very personal. I’ve messed up and had to check myself and do better. The losses are tough to understand sometimes, but I’ve learned from every last one.

Thank you all for being supportive, whether you know me personally or not. Thank you for your kind words and deeds when I needed it most. Thank you for challenging me to do and be better. Thank you for every criticism and pat on the back. Thank you for supporting the arts and for supporting Zahra and I and all our many many initiatives.

A special thank you to my close circle, who may not always understand my process and why I do certain things and make certain decisions, but show up to cheer me on without me even asking. You all are the real MVPs and you each know how much I cherish your unwavering love and support.

For who much is given, much is expected, so I felt it necessary to share this with you. I am supremely grateful. Everything is not right, but I am right where I am suppose to be. Give thanks ALL-ways.”

Linisa has announced a forthcoming project The Black Exhibit and her first book ‘The Flowers In Her Hair – an ode to Afro-Caribbean Womanhood’, both due this August 2018. Linisa  is a past Wadadli Pen Challenge judge and patron. Both Linisa and Zahra have built up a lot of goodwill in the arts community through the energies and time they’ve put in to local arts – on their projects and in support of projects by other artists. As their stagings of the Vagina Monologues and its local spin-off When a Woman Moans indicated they set the bar high.  In an environment where the art DOES NOT get the support, investment, attention, or boost it needs, Linisa and Zahra have invested time they could have been putting in to their own art in to building an arts community – Young Poets Society to Poetry in the Pub. Creating art, while making a living, while being an arts advocate, while life-ing is tiring – I know – so kudos to them for having the courage to step back to come forward. This is Linisa’s  Love Letter to Zahra and their journey as figurative twins (though not bound by blood they share the same birthday), but it speaks to me and my own journey (its trials and triumphs and, again, its trials) and I suspect it will you as well. We are, none of us, perfect, among the things Linisa testifies to above is that we are all flawed works in progress, but in many ways these sisters are #blackgirlmagic #repecttheirhustle #beinspired

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved.

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